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FEATURE6 November 2014

The trends coming in 2015

Features

From where feminism will go after the fourth wave to the rise of personalised pricing, a range of societal and marketing trends were discussed at Future Foundation’s Trending 2015 conference in London yesterday.

It takes a brave man to stand on a stage and talk about feminism but that’s how Future Foundation’s CEO Christophe Jouan opened yesterday’s Trending 2015 conference. Entitled ‘We are the 49.6%’ he looked at how younger generations were adopting and adapting the feminist movement.

He identified three strands dominating the argument: the Sheryl Sandberg Lean In theory; the rise of Pop Feminism and actress Emma Watson’s HeforShe speech to the UN calling for the inclusion of men in the debate.

Overall Jouan pointed to how Generation Y took a more conservative attitude toward female empowerment. “They are united by the non-adversarial nature of the debate – ‘soft’ feminism,” he said.

Younger generations are more in favour of traditional roles: in the US almost half of young men who said they support women’s rights also support traditional gender roles. As the phrase ‘pink-washing’ – loaded with negative connotations – enters the language, some aspects of change associated with previous waves of the feminist movement are losing traction. “Certainly the concept of having it all is being questioned,” he said.

We are what we wear

As smartphone ownership approaches saturation levels among urban affluents – 78% in UK, 95% in China -the inevitable consequence will be increased interest and ownership of wearables. Within this emerging tech sector, biometrics is one of the leading forces. In the US just over half said they were interested in a device which gives regular advice on how to improve health according to Will Seymour, brand officer at Future Foundation.

One factor leading to wearables taking off is the element of control they offer people, especially as the constant interruption proffered by mobile devices leads to more people seeking an escape and more quiet in their lives. Seventy one per cent of Brazilians, 40% of US and 55% of Chinese said they received too many calls and notifications. Seymour pointed to devices such as Withings SmartWatch which eschews notifications instead designed with a passive data display.

“Passwords, PINs, screen time and notifications are all peaking. There is choice and a change from hyper-connectivity to peace. So the peak actually turns into a pivot that all of us can control” said Seymour. “Messages are no longer consumed once, in the continuum consumers have an internal filing system. It’s about gaining power to control our exposure to the digital world.”

The price is personal

As pricings has increasingly dominated the retail landscape there is an inevitable consequence on the impact of brands and marketing argued James Murphy, editorial director. The risk is that the pricing focus erodes consumers’ respect for brand quality and leaves brands trying to establish a premium position in danger of being undermined.

“The idea that high prices equals high quality has taken something of a beating gin recent years,” he said. “To what extend does pricing restrict the ability to talk about other things?”

Murphy believes personalised pricing is on its way and any regulatory obstacles will be overcome.

“Is it imaginable that you could go to a supermarket and be charged a specific price only for you? Not tomorrow, nor the next day, but we have to imagine this will be the case fairly soon,” he said.

“It’s technically illegal in the US and it would fall foul of the Data Protection Act in the UK but the means of overcoming such obstacles are real and available to many suppliers.”

So while in 2000, when Amazon tried to do this based on demographics, there was outcry and it was stopped, Murphy thinks it will soon be different and cited the US Department of Transportation giving the green light to personal pricing in civil aviation.

“Now the OFT takes a relaxed view as it believes in the long run it’ll benefit the consumer. It’s a concept still to be tested in the marketplace,” he said.

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